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The five best beach and safari combinations

Taking a beach break after a safari is a perfect way to recover from all those dawn wake-up calls needed to spot the wildlife when it’s most active. Most are familiar with the classic combination of Kenya’s Masai Mara and Mombasa beaches, but there are plenty of options to inspire you to take that dream trip.


Here are five of the best:


Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka’s Indian Ocean beaches are what the island is famous for, with the requisite endless yellow sand, palm trees and pounding surf. In the past, the island has undersold its wildlife, but awareness is growing, particularly with the promotion of its ‘Big Five’. This list includes the elephant and leopard, but the comparisons with Africa stop here, as the others are Sloth Bear, Sperm and Blue Whale. Sri Lanka is big on national parks and many, like Yala, stretch down to the beach and include wetlands that are havens for bird species. A drive through Yala will almost certainly gift you with the sighting of a leopard - the concentration here is the world’s highest - plus much more, including elephants, buffalos, civets and crocodiles. If elephants are your thing, Udawalawe National Park, further inland in the same region, has the highest concentration on the island.


Tanzania and Zanzibar: Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Parks are close to the Kenyan border but not off-limits. The full range of African wildlife is found here and the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro is hard to beat. Tanzania’s beaches are inviting enough, but Zanzibar is blessed with the white powder sand that matches an azure ocean so well. Zanzibar is big enough to be a destination in its own right, but the beaches and barrier reefs mean it’s by the sea that you’ll spend most of your time. Some high-end properties are now springing up on the island and if you want to be ahead of the curve, now is the time to go.


India: Mixing a visit to some of India’s national parks with the beaches of Goa or Kerala is an ideal way to experience this vast and fascinating country, particularly if you also spend time in a major gateway like Mumbai. What were once hunting reserves for maharajahs are now protected zones housing tigers and although these are elusive, a plethora of other animal species including leopards, porcupines and wild boar warrant a visit by themselves. Goa’s Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary has the added attraction of tropical forests, waterfalls and a sunset viewpoint. Kerala, meanwhile, offers the Silent Valley, one of the last undisturbed parts of the South Western Ghats mountain rainforest and home to several species of macaques as well as larger mammals.


South Africa and Mauritius: South Africa has no shortage of great beaches and you may be content to stay in the country after your safari, but if you want something more languid, this is where Mauritius, with plentiful flight connections from South Africa, comes into its own. It’s not just that the island is laid back, but its shoreline slopes gently into the calm sea, making it ideal for nervous swimmers or families. You should earn your rest and relaxation first, and after an arrival into Johannesburg, there’s an easy flight connection to South Africa’s vast Kruger National Park. Here, every kind of safari is offered, from horseback to walking to birding plus the more traditional night drives. This is safari at its most extensive and traditional, with around 150 species, including the Big Five, living in 7,500 square miles, with accommodation ranging from campsites to high-end bush camps and lodges.


Botswana and Mozambique: There’s no escaping the fact that safaris in Botswana are not cheap, but if you want the ultimate special occasion wildlife and beach package, then the Okavango Delta and Mozambique’s shoreline is for you. Much of the accommodation in Okavango is from a bygone era, with antique furniture and gourmet cuisine. This level of service is designed to match the wildlife viewing, which can be literally on your doorstep, as none of the camps are enclosed. Exploring the delta in a dugout canoe is the traditional way to see the animals that use the rivers as a vital water source. For your own shore experience, you then head to Mozambique’s white beaches, whose coral reefs are a great place for diving and big game fishing.